Freddie Ljungberg criticises Arsenal’s decision to sign Martin Odegaard on loan

Freddie Ljungberg criticises Arsenal's decision to sign Martin Odegaard on loan
The Norwegian arrived from Real Madrid in the January window (Picture: Getty)

Arsenal legend Freddie Ljungberg has questioned Arsenal’s decision to bring in Martin Odegaard on loan and believes it could hamper the development of Emile Smith Rowe.

The January recruit from Real Madrid was picked to play in a central attacking midfield role in Sunday’s north London derby win over Tottenham, with Smith Rowe moving to the left flank, and netted just before half-time in the 2-1 victory.

But Ljungberg – who coached the 20-year-old and handed him his debut – is concerned that Odegaard’s arrival is forcing Smith Rowe out of his preferred position and could be detrimental.

Martin Odegaard Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Odegaard netted against Spurs to cancel out Lamela’s opener (Picture: Getty)

Asked if he was surprised that Arsenal had signed Odegaard despite already having Smith Rowe, Ljungberg said: ‘Yes I was.

‘I’m a little bit like… I think Odegaard is a great player, don’t get me wrong.

‘But if you have young players in kind of the same position that you want to develop, taking someone in on loan that you don’t have a buying option on, to develop for another club – like Madrid in this case – I don’t understand that 100%.

‘Because I think if we want to go forward at Arsenal as a football club it’s the young ones that are going to make the difference.

‘And they need games and Emile doesn’t need to play as winger because he’s moving for another player. He needs to play in his position.’

Arsenal star Emile Smith Rowe
Smith Rowe smashed the crossbar with a great effort vs Spurs (Picture: Getty)

Speaking about Smith Rowe’s development, Ljungberg added: ‘I’ve always been convinced about him, that’s why I gave him his debut.

‘I got criticised by some people that thought, “What is going on here?”

‘But I felt he would benefit from starting a game and learn from it. And he has so much talent, he’s strong, good understanding of the game and very good feet. So he’ll have a great future.’

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